By Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua
After an initial denial of rumours that he would join the ruling party, the former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has finally ditched his party. However, after long speculations, his defection to APC has continued to elicit mixed reactions in the country.
Before his defection, many signals emerged that the former president had stopped attending activities organised by his former party. The Bayelsa state’s gubernatorial election conducted in 2020, whose former party lost to APC before a court ruled in its favour, suggested Jonathan’s indifference to PDP affairs. Does Jonathan’s defection have to do with how the party treats him during and after the 2015 general elections?
While the former president might have lost the 2015 election due to the zoning arrangements of PDP, which he disregarded and refused to abide by, the betrayal and backstabbing that ensued among trusted party loyalists led to his resounding defeat remains fresh in his mind.
The emergence of a new PDP split group led by Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other heavy party juggernauts who abandoned him at the tail end of the party’s convention had wreaked great havoc on his re-election bid. With these politicians who deserted him returning to PDP, Jonathan would not feel comfortable staying with them.
As a former president, Jonathan should be the party’s leader. However, Nelson Wike, Rivers State governor, has hijacked the party and has since been calling the shot. Wike and his surrogates have firmly controlled the party and failed to consult or engage the former president on the party’s decisions.
The inability of PDP to respect or recognise Jonathan as their leader must have dampened his morale and forced him to change his mind. One imagined how the former president, who was a governor, a vice president and president under PDP, could suddenly ditch his benefactor.
The former APC national chairman, extraordinary convention committee, Mai-Mala Buni, must take credit for Jonathan’s defection. The Yobe state governor, during his stint as chairman, visited and subsequently wooed him to APC. Do Malam Buni and his co-travellers sign a pact that they would throw their weight behind his presidential ambition if he joins the party? Jonathan did not only join the ruling party but also bought nomination form through the northern youth group.
Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential ambition has raised some critical questions. First, is the ruling party toeing the dangerous path of PDP by jettisoning its zoning arrangement? With Buhari completing his tenure, one will advise for equity and justice. There is a need for power to be shifted to the South.
Also, during its recent convention, APC opted for Abdullahi Adamu, a northerner, as the National chairman. This development has further buttressed that the South will produce the next president. Moreover, with Jonathan joining the presidential race, what will be the future of southwest politicians, especially Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who sees his contest as a lifetime ambition. It is no understatement to say that President Muhammadu Buhari’s victories in 2015 and 2019 are to the credit of Tinubu and other southwest politicians.
If APC fields Jonathan, the southwest politicians will unite and reject the party. To them, having played second fiddle in the previous elections, the 2023 ticket should be exclusively reserved for them. But, on the other hand, if the ticket is not given to them, there is every tendency of anti-party, as these politicians will ally with either PDP or Kwankwaso’s NNPP to ensure APC loses the election in the region.
Second, who and who are dragging or promoting Jonathan’s presidency and their motives? It was reported that Jonathan’s presidency had two northern governors’ tacit support. One from the northwest and the other one from the northeast. If their plan works as scheduled, Jonathan promised to pick one of them as running mate.
The legal technicalities that may await the former president will unarguably discourage APC from giving him its ticket. Jonathan took an oath of office twice. If he is allowed to contest and luckily wins the poll, Jonathan will take his third oath of office, which is unconstitutional. This will open up serious court litigations.
What will happen if the opposition PDP finally settles for Atiku Abubakar as their candidate? Will APC stick to Jonathan’s presidency? The former president had received accolades globally for conducting a free and fair election in 2015. Jonathan was the first African president who conceded defeat and called and congratulated the winner even before the result was announced.
Since he left office, his diplomacy performances have endeared him to many Nigerians. However, the former president should have kept a low profile, continued his diplomacy engagement, and advised the country where necessary. With the former president throwing his hat in the ring, what will be his fate during and after the 2023 general elections?
Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua wrote from Kaduna state via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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